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The lungs of our planet
When you think of the Amazon rainforest, you typically think of a vast, lushy tropical rainforest that is responsible for storing tons of carbon and providing us with clean, breatheable oxygen or in other words, the world’s lungs. But recently, that imagery couldn’t be further from the truth. The Amazon rainforest has been ravaged with record breaking forest fires - that is, over 40,000 fires so far this year.
Why is this happening?
These forest fires are not started naturally. These fires are actually a slash and burn method and all the fingers are pointing at the far-right Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro. Mr. Bolsonaro promised to open up protected lands in order to expand agribusiness and be able to compete for the global demand for beef and soy. However, studies have shown that slash and burn methods are not sustainable and the resources from burned land typically dries up in a couple of years.
What does this mean?
If you didn’t already know, trees convert carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into oxygen via a process called “photosynthesis”. Thanks to these photosynthesizing trees, we have clean oxygen to breathe from. So if these trees are being burned down then that means there are less oxygen producing trees for everyone and more contributions to global warming. More global warming, means more extreme weather conditions like heat waves, snow storms, hurricanes, etc. Not only that, but the animals that live in these trees will need to find new homes and that could mean some surprising visits from some big cats.
What can we do?
For starters, the one thing we should all do is to understand who is running for positions of power and the policies that they are fighting for. Ensure that the people who wield power are the people that will serve the public. I think politicians forget that they are public servants and will always remain as such. If they fall short delivering on their commitments, then they will be replaced or, depending on how diplomatic and productive they were, given a second chance (I believe in second chances based on merit).
Fight Fire with Fire
Second, if you’re passionate about the environment and politicians just aren’t working out then run for office yourself! There is nothing better than seeing young politicians sinking their teeth in and getting involved.